For Immediate Release: August 18, 2011
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First is urging Mayor James of Kansas City, Missouri, to request the return of the Kansas Medal of Freedom from Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in light of his regime’s continuing violent crackdown on pro-democracy activists. The King received the award in the early 1970’s, according to the Bahraini Embassy’s website.
King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa has overseen a series of brutal measures since March, in which hundreds have been detained—some of them doctors and other medical professionals—and there has been widespread torture and at least four deaths in custody. On June 15, U.S. Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe citied Bahrain as one of the countries where there had been “violent repression of peaceful protests”. In response to the King’s appalling human rights record, Human Rights First has asked current Kansas city Mayor Sylvester James to consider revoking the King’s medal to make clear that the people of Kansas City do not support such acts.
A letter sent to Mayor James from Human Rights First’s Brian Dooley, who recently returned from a mission in Bahrain, notes, “We want to bring to the Mayor’s attention how his office and constituents are publicly associated with the Bahraini King at a time when his regime is internationally recognized as having committed serious human rights violations”.
“We hope the gesture in asking the King to return the medal will help the positive international pressure to stop human rights abuses,” added Dooley.
Earlier this month, Human Rights First issued “Bahrain: A Tortuous Process,” a report based on research conducted by Dooley during his second fact-finding mission to Bahrain from July 6 -12. In May, the organization issued “Bahrain: Speaking Softly,” a report capturing the findings of Dooley’s May 2011 trip to the region, his first since the Bahraini Government’s violent anti-democracy crackdown began. Both reports contain a series of recommendations for the U.S. Government and its officials, as well as for the Bahraini leadership.